11/22/63 by Stephen King

Before I get into 11/22/63, I did say I would make a post about California. Now I’m regretting that because there is really too much to talk about (and honestly, who really cares about other people’s travel adventures?), but here are a few pictures instead:

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We were blessed with the most beautiful day when we went to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Hiking Torrey Pines with family.

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Me never wanting to leave California and go back to work.

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Torrey Pines view.

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Blurry, but this was the amazing San Fran crew.

Highlights of the trip were: a legitimately insane Easter (God would have been really proud…), hiking Torrey Pines, a Padres game (but mainly the $2.50 tacos on taco Tuesday), Alcatraz, and the gross amount of food I consumed (no regrets.)

More pictures are on my Instagram feed to the right on my home page.

Anyways! 11/22/63. I chose to read this because it was a lot longer than what I typically read (coming in at 800+ pages) and I figured vacation would give me some free time to read. Unfortunately, I was very wrong, but I did get some reading done on the flight. This novel is quite different from the classic Stephen King genre of horror. 11/22/63 is a time-travel story about Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, who is tasked with travelling back to 1958 to spend 5 years preparing to prevent the JFK assassination. Al Templeton, the owner of a local burger joint, is the one that finds what they call a rabbit hole into the past. He has travelled numerous times to 1958  – mainly to purchase cheap meat and bring it back to 2011 to sell at more expensive (but still cheap for 2011 standards) prices. Time travel is confusing. Anyways, he gets the idea in his head of stopping the JFK assassination, but is unfortunately unable to do so himself when he is diagnosed with cancer and has very little time left to live. He then turns to Jake Epping. He explains the rules of the rabbit hole. For one, it brings you back to the same second every time you step through. This isn’t The Time Machine, you don’t choose the date. You always step through at exactly 11:58am on September 9, 1958. You may stay as long as you like, but when you step back into 2011, only two minutes will have passed. Most importantly, each time you step through to 1958 there is a complete reset on any previous trips. This may seem confusing if you haven’t read the book but the idea is this: you travel to 1958, you save JFK, you travel back to 2011. Now say you want to go back though the rabbit hole to 1958, once you step through, you would have to save JFK again, otherwise the moment you go back to 2011 you would find that JFK had been assassinated all over again. Make sense? I hope so. King does a far better job of making sense of time travel.

The most important thing is that the past is obdurate. This phrase is Jake Epping’s, not mine, and it holds true for the whole story. While Jake fears the butterfly effect, he also finds that the past does not want to change. His travelling to the past is much like my anxiety dreams. There’s a task to complete (saving JFK for Jake, making it to a meeting for me) and literally everything will stop us from accomplishing it (car crashes, etc for Jake, “oh shit I forgot to put clothes on” for me).

That is the overall premise, and I hate to give too much more detail for fear of spoiling major plot points. There’s romance, gambling, heartbreak, and more. King did a lot of research in developing this novel so you learn a bit of history too. Specifically surrounding Lee Harvey Oswald. At the same time, obviously the majority of the story is fiction, often making it hard to decipher between reality and fantasy.

I really enjoyed that this is one of the few time travelling stories that deal with going to the past. Perhaps I just don’t read enough time travel novels, but I feel like most books or movies are about travelling to the future. Characters shy away from going to the past for fear of the butterfly effect, but this was not the case in 11/22/63. I appreciated that.

As with all the books I’ve read lately, I have so many more thoughts, but not enough time or patience to write them all down here. Overall, I would definitely recommend. I will say that it is fairly predictable once you understand the premise. Regardless, I really enjoyed every bit of it and found that 800 pages can fly by when you enjoy the story.


Traveling again next week (this time for work), so I am going to start another long-ish book. Since I am going to see Hamilton on Broadway in a month I am going to read I, Eliza Hamilton.

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